25% of safety inspectors for a sector employing 6%

At the recent Memorial Day were Martin O'Halloran, Chief Executive, HSA; Patricia King, General Secretary, Congress of Trade Unions; Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash; and Danny McCoy, Chief Executive Ibec.

Health and Safety Authority senior inspector Pat Griffin told the Seanad Public Consultation Committee about HSA plans to inspect 2,300 farms this year.

“This represents giving 25% of our inspection resource to a sector employing 6%.”

He said the HSA has a death black spots chart, developed with Teagasc, showing pockets where there are significantly higher levels of farm deaths.

“We focus on high-risk areas first, and we also consider where there is expansion and movement and try to focus on this.”

He said inspectors also look for progressive farms, farms where it seems much work is being done, and bigger farms.

“The process is non-confrontational.”

“All our inspectors are asked to be a help in the first instance, and to provide guidance and reassurance to farmers and help them in what they do to protect their families and themselves from risk.”

“Farmers can be found to be operating a machine without a PTO guard, or there can be open slurry tanks.

“In such cases of clear and visible breaches, we issue an enforcement notice in the form of an improvement notice and give the farmers a certain period of time to fix the problem.”

“We have regulated the agricultural sector for 20 years, and within this period we have had seven or eight prosecutions, which were generally on foot of asking the farmers in question two or three times to make a certain repair job on machinery or change a certain process.”

If an improvement or prohibition notice has been issued, we do return to the farm to see that the issues have been put right.

He said fatal farm accidents are a huge problem worldwide.

In 2007, the death rate throughout Europe was 12 per 100,000 employed. But no reliable figures have been produced since.“We can be told how many calves will be born in Europe this year, but not how many farmers will be killed. I estimate 1,000 farmers in Europe are killed every year.”

“This year we will get involved with 50 discussion groups as a pilot.”


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